The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.
October already? Well yes — that’s the way it is on magazine covers. Always one week ahead of reality (or if it’s a monthly, one month ahead of reality). The cover of this weeks issue, graphically speaking, reminded me of Gretchen Dow Simpson’s work (she did 58 covers for the New Yorker ). A number of Ms. Simpson’s covers involved stairs, and all the wonderful shadows and angles associated with stairs. She did one New York City stoop cover as well (it was this cover that came to mind when I first saw the latest one by Kadir Nelson. Like Mr. Nelson’s, Ms. Simpson’s cover has a somber cast of its own.
I note while zooming though the Goings On About Town the ad for Spielberg (“Direct From the Heart”) — he looks a little like John Lennon there, specifically the photo of Mr. Lennon taken outside Mr. Lennon’s New York City Bank Street address.
Spielberg and Mr. Lennon (with stethoscope):
Okay, now in to the issue and onto the cartoons. The first, on page 20, is by Barbara Smaller, who began contributing to the New Yorker in 1996. An excellent sizing of Ms. Smaller’s drawing — we can really see her work here. It’s funny, but with this kind of space, her work makes me think somewhat of the late great Robert Weber’s. Perhaps it’s the caption, or tone of the caption — very Webery (Webbery?). Google search Robert Weber New Yorker images and you’ll get an eyeful. I’d direct you to a Weber collection but, sigh, there never was one (some day I hope!).
Four pages later is a mob drawing by relative newbie, Christian Lowe (first New Yorker appearance: February 2016). Again, nice placement on the page. The caption forced me to visualize cinematic baseball bat moments involving mobsters. Did Robert De Niro’s Al Capone do a bat flip in that memorable scene from The Untouchables? Nope.
Four pages later a rapunzel drawing by J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein). Mr. Katzenstein (first New Yorker drawing: 2014) manages, in a two-part drawing no less, and using barely any of Rapunzel’s tower or hair, to succinctly convey an idea. Most cartoonists would show the whole tower and all the hair, as well as the sun, and Icarus. In this case, not necessary. J.A.K.’s drawing is immediately followed by a two page color spread by Roz Chast (her work began appearing in the magazine in 1978). An incident taken from a day in Ms. Chast’s life, involving a knife. Three pages later a drawing by — I believe! — a brand new newbie, Jon Adams. The drawing features a burning bed that is in no way connected to the 1984 Farrah Fawcett film, The Burning Bed.
Two pages later, an Avi Steinberg drawing set in one of a cartoonist’s best friend scenarios: the doctor’s office. I toyed with the idea that the caption should read “Just as I suspected. This thing makes everything louder” instead of the published “Just as I suspected. These things make everything louder” — it’s the kind of brow furrowing decision-making that makes this cartoon biz so darn demanding.
Four pages later, the distinctive work of Lars Kenseth (first New Yorker cartoon: 2016). Sharks! I wish we could see a Kenseth shark some day. In this case the fins suffice. The fellow in the foreground is holding a small piece of wood. I appreciate the care Mr. Kenseth has taken drawing that little piece of wood — the detail makes me laugh.
After another four pages is a well placed Paul Noth drawing incorporating a wee bit of color. Mr. Noth’s first drawing appeared in The New Yorker in 2004. Like Mr. Steinberg’s doctor’s office, the wise man on the mountaintop is also a favorite of New Yorker cartoonists (I’ve done a number of both, and will continue to do more — they’re like potato chips: you can’t stop at one, or even a dozen). On the very next page is a Farley Katz drawing. Mr. Katz, like Mr. Kenseth, has a truly distinctive style. You know it’s his work before you’ve had time to even wonder whose work it is (if that makes sense). There are certain cartoonists whose every drawing is akin to coming upon a blind curve — you have absolutely no idea what you are about to see. This is a very very good thing. In this latest drawing, there’s shopping action that (for me anyway) recalls the game show Supermarket Sweep. Again, Mr. Katz does not fail to deliver something unusual.
A Tom Chitty drawing follows Mr. Katz. Talk about your distinctive styling. This is a three parter, with the third part using a party punch bowl, something not seen in New Yorker cartoons very often. If there’s been a punch bowl in recent times, I can’t recall it. Please correct me if I’m mistaken. The first Chitty New Yorker drawing appeared in 2014. Three pages later, Emily Flake mashes pirates with ‘splaining. I’m curious as to where this pirate get-together takes place. It looks kind of like a lodge, or a finished basement. Ms. Flake’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2008. On the very next page is a BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan) drawing. Another distinctive stylist with the added bonus of some of the best written captions the magazine publishes. They just flow. Mr. Kaplan’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1991.
Eight pages later, the final drawing of the issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings) and it’s by newbie, Teresa Burns Parkhurst. Technically not Ms. Parkhurst’s first appearance in the magazine — she was part of last week’s caption contest. Another cartoonist’s chestnut scenario: the boardroom. This time the focus is on the always awkward situation of whether or not to tell someone they’ve some foreign body (food, usually) stuck on their face.
— And that is that. See you next Monday.